Cherokee Nation, TU partner for child asthma prevention study


TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation and the University of Tulsa are conducting a three-year study to determine whether minor changes at home and school can reduce asthma among Cherokee children.

The Environmental Protection Agency awarded TU a $920,000 research grant in June. The Cherokee Nation will use $318,000 of that amount for supplies and research expenses.

The “From Home to School: Tribal Indoor Air Quality Intervention Study” will test whether using certain products in the home reduce allergens like dust mites and pet dander, which trigger asthma.

Some households will receive a specialized vacuum and dust mite mattress protectors to use at home. The study will compare asthma outbreaks among children using those tools with those who make no changes. The study will also ask some local elementary schools to implement specific cleaning tasks, and whether those changes make a difference in the participating students’ health and attendance.

American Indians suffer from asthma at a higher rate than other ethnic groups, according to data from the Oklahoma Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. In 2013, Cherokee Nation’s health centers and W.W. Hastings Hospital cared for 820 children with asthma attacks.

“We’ve identified that childhood asthma is a significant health problem in the Cherokee population, and by looking at research data from a combined environmental and health perspective with TU’s help, we will be able to find innovative solutions to reduce asthma in our communities,” Cherokee Nation Health Research Director Sohail Khan said.

The tribe was approached by researchers at TU’s Indoor Air Program to collaborate on the study. The Navajo tribe and Nez Perce tribe are also participating.

“The Cherokee Nation has a strong presence among tribes across the country, and we’re excited to work together for this asthma intervention study,” Director of TU’s Indoor Air Program Richard Shaughnessy said. “In addition, the convergence of the study on three tribes within three different regions and climates of the United States makes for a very unique opportunity for success to explore the spectrum of exposures that children with asthma encounter on a daily basis.”

A handful of Cherokee students interested in research will be selected to help collect data. Study results should be available in 2017.

For more information, call Cherokee Nation project coordinators Ryan Callison at 918-453-5000 ext. 5093; Shaun West at ext. 5363; or Sohail Khan at ext. 5602.

Cherokee Nation News Release
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